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Are Hezbollah and Iran the real threat to Arabs in the Middle East?

Supporters of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah gather during a speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah on 13 August 2017 [Ali Dia/Anadolu Agency]
Supporters of Hezbollah gather during a speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah on 13 August 2017 [Ali Dia/Anadolu Agency]

The dramatic recent Saudi-led hike of incitement against Iran and Hezbollah peaked when the government in Riyadh called for the Arab League to convene a meeting and issue a statement on behalf of all the Arab nations criticising Iran and calling for Tehran to stop meddling in the affairs of the Arabs and their ruling regimes. The Saudis also want the League to brand Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and called for it to stop creating political instability in Lebanon.

A number of Arab nations do not see the Iranian issue as sufficiently serious to warrant an Arab League meeting, but Saudi Arabia insisted, and it was held on Sunday. The concluding statement accuses Iran of destabilising the region with the help of its allies Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, which are said to be Tehran’s proxies.

According to Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, Iran and Hezbollah are guilty of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.” They have pledged to take action against it. “The Kingdom will not stand by and will not hesitate to defend its security,” insisted Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. “We must stand together.”

During the meeting, Al-Jubeir also accused Hezbollah of supplying advanced weaponry to the Houthi militias in Yemen, which used them to attack Saudi Arabia early this months, reported Reuters.

Read: ‘Iranian regime has pushed too far through its proxy, the Houthis’

The Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that, “Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a dangerous abyss.”

In fact, like any other state, Saudi Arabia has the right to defend itself, its borders and its citizens. It can also rush to the defence of other Arab nations and their citizens, but the problem is that the Kingdom, which considers itself to be the umbrella state of all Arabs, is very selective when it comes to such matters.

Why has it not rushed to defend Iraq from Iran and its proxy militias there, the Popular Mobilisation Forces and others? Saudi Arabia wants to defend the Arabs in Lebanon, but why it would not defend the Arabs in Syria? The Kingdom supported a number of rebel groups in Syria but backed off when the rebels split and their fight against the regime became useless. Why have the Saudis stopped calling for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to be removed despite his responsibility for killing and wounding hundreds of thousands of his own Arab citizens, and displacing millions more?

If Saudi Arabia wanted to defend the Arabs in Yemen, why it will it not stop bombing civilians and open the ports and airports controlled by its coalition to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country? Why has it not called for the UAE to stop arresting Yemenis and sending them to secret prisons?

Read: The Saudi-Iran conflict and us

And what about the Arabs in Egypt? Thousands of innocent people are held in Egyptian prisons, where human rights groups confirm that prisoners do not have even basic facilities such as toilets, healthy food, proper medical treatment and fair trials. What about the Arab President Mohamed Morsi, who was the first-ever freely elected holder of the post but was ousted in a coup — backed by Saudi Arabia — and sent to jail? What about the prisoners dying in Egypt’s prisons due to medical negligence?

If Saudi Arabia wants to protect the Arabs from Iran and Hezbollah, what about the Palestinians, who have been exposed to ethnic cleansing and genocides since before the 1948 Nakba? Are they not Arabs? Has Saudi Arabia ever heard about the Deir Yassin Massacre? Has it ever heard about Sabra and Shatila? Has it ever heard about Qana? Does it not know that more than 550 Palestinian towns and villages have been wiped off the map by Zionists in Saudi Arabia’s new best friend Israel, displacing or killing their Arab residents? Has Saudi Arabia heard about the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa, the third holiest place for Muslims after Makkah and Madinah?

Saudi attracts US attention by singing Israel's tunes - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Saudi attracts US attention by singing Israel’s tunes – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Furthermore, has Saudi Arabia and the Arab League never heard about the three major Israeli military offensives against the Arab Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a strict Israeli siege for more than 10 years? Have the Saudi King and Crown Prince asked Israel about the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed, and the tens of thousands wounded in Israel’s attacks? Has the government in Riyadh never heard about the thousands of Arab homes, schools, mosques, hospitals and infrastructure which Israel has destroyed over the years?

There are many, many questions which need to be asked of Saudi Arabia, which believes that Iran and Hezbollah are behind regional instability, not the Israeli occupation and colonisation of Arab Palestine. At the very least, why does Saudi Arabia not put Israel at the same level with Iran and Hezbollah?

Saudi Arabia has created a fake enemy in the region in order to deviate the Arabs from Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, their land and their holy sites. The normalisation of relations with Israel will only have one beneficiary, and that is Israel itself. Such normalisation is not “necessary” to protect the Arabs from Iran and Hezbollah; surely, even the people pulling the strings in Saudi Arabia can see that.

Read: Israeli minister reveals covert contacts with Saudi Arabia

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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